All around the world scientists always try to find new methods to help agriculture. For example, when farming is done on histosols soils, which have a thick layer of rich organic matter called peat, this process may lead to loss of valuable carbon in such soils. Carbon is lost via erosion, tillage and a natural process called mineralization. The carbon is released from the soil as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So it is vital to implement relevant technology to avoid the loss.
Recently, researchers at Laval University in Canada conducted a new study aimed at finding ideal technology of adding plant material to the soil to prevent the carbon loss. At the first stage, they studied decomposition qualities of specific plants and how they affect the carbon in soil. Secondly, they tried to choose the best plant for these objectives.
They studied three biomass crops: sorghum, miscanthus, and willow by putting them in permeable bags into the soil. After that, they used the decomposition data including the speed of decomposition and its effectivity to simulate how much each plant would help the soil over longer period of time.
“If you have a crop such as miscanthus that decomposes less than sorghum, the buildup over the years is much more efficient,” explains Jacynthe Dessureault-Rompré from the Laval University who led the team. “The simulation part added a new perspective because we were then able to see that carbon equilibrium is something that can be achieved. It was fantastic to see that adding plant material year after year allows farmers to overcome the carbon lost during farming in histosols.” Thus, the researchers found that willow and miscanthus proved to be a good solution for ensuring sustainable farming on histosols.